As we have discovered throughout my blog series, there are many crucial components to running an effective nonprofit board. In my previous post, I discussed the crucial process of setting the agenda and the roles everyone plays in having a successful board meeting. To wrap up my series on high-functioning nonprofit boards, let’s focus on some recruiting principles of effective boards that can help set the stage for your organization’s success.
How strongly does your organization’s culture align with the board? Every board has a unique culture, and it’s essential that it matches with the one at your organization. Without cultural alignment, there will be disorganization among board members and management. A unified, strong culture is the foundation of sound board governance. What it means to achieve a strong culture can vary, but it should be one that fosters inquisitiveness, generative discussions, and invites diverse perspectives, and allows for debates. Members of the board should understand and respect their roles and responsibilities, respect the roles and responsibilities of management, and have a constructive partnership with the CEO/ED. With a solid understanding of your culture, you can better recruit suitable board members that will amplify and enhance your organization’s mission.
When the time comes to recruit members, pay close attention to a potential candidate’s character. You may want to consider asking a candidate to assess their own character in an interview. This is a crucial step and one that is often overlooked as being too investigative. Making it clear that your board prioritizes character sets a tone that membership is significant and taken seriously.
In addition to analyzing character, seek competence in your board members. Can your board members perform, or do they just have credentials? Many potential candidates will have credentials, those initials people have after their names, but competence is the mastery of knowledge or a skill that enables an individual to consistently deliver high-quality results. Assess this in a future board member – are they successful and do they have a history of achieving desirable outcomes in the field in which they operate?
Nonprofit knowledge is also critical to sound governance and decision-making and should be prioritized when recruiting board members. A well-run nonprofit has a competent and compassionate staff, which helps the organization function effectively. It is so important that board members fully understand how the organization is structured, and that they recognize their responsibility to ensure its continuity.
Finally, there is a strong need for diverse boards and board members. Diversity inspires innovation by allowing various perspectives and experiences to be shared. It can range from ethnicity, gender, skill, and age differences. Nonprofit organizations should aim to develop multiple leading-edge strategies to build a board that incorporates multiple voices and viewpoints all while conducting effective oversight. By achieving a diverse board, you can ensure your organization’s mission can continuously innovate and evolve to reflect an accurate depiction of society.
Establishing a highly effective board requires focus and attention in many key areas, and recruitment is no different. Successful boards have members who are diverse, nonprofit knowledgeable, competent in their position, have strong character, and match the organization’s culture. At BerganKDV, we partner with nonprofit organizations to help maximize and streamline their internal processes including board governance. Reach out to us to learn more about the array of solutions we offer to help enhance your organization’s mission and impact.